Prep time: 15 minutes
Rising time: 2 + 1 + 1 hours (you can also prepare the choeregs the day before. For the last rise, leave them at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap)
Baking time: 70 minutes (small spiced choeregs: 20-25 minutes)
Choereg, Tcheureg, Chorag…
No matter how you spell it, choereg is a traditional braided bread. The recipe varies from one family to another. Whether you prefer it sweet or savory, individual or family-sized, it’s always served with cheese and strong coffee.
(1) Mahleb or Mahaleb – mahleb is the kernel from the pit of a sour black cherry from the St. Lucie cherry tree, a member of the Prunus family that is widespread in the Middle East. When powdered, it adds a touch of bitter almond flavor in the preparation of sweet breads and pastries, particularly in Turkey and Armenia.
Substitute: a few drops of bitter almond extract.
Hints and tips
(2) Some Armenian bakers substitute vegetable oil for the melted butter.
- Dissolve the yeast in 125 ml warm water with 1 tsp. sugar. Let stand until foamy.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the milk; heat until the milk just begins to simmer WITHOUT boiling. Let cool.
- In a small bowl, beat the eggs, then incorporate them into the cooled butter-milk mixture.
- In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, mahleb, remaining sugar and salt. Create a well in the center and pour in the yeast and milk-butter-egg mixture. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the liquid ingredients. Knead for 10 minutes or until a smooth, soft dough forms.
- Place the dough into a buttered or oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 2 hours until the dough has doubled in volume.
- Punch down quickly; cover; let rise another hour.
- Here is the conventional method – you can check out the Armenian technique in the recipe for individual Beureks:
- Divide the dough into 6 pieces. With your fingertips, roll each one into a long thin rope, all of equal length.
- Take 3 ropes and pinch them together at one end.
- Braid the three strands, then pinch together the end of the braid so that it does not come undone during baking and fold under for a neater presentation. Repeat to make the second braid.
- Place the braids on a parchment-lined baking sheet, making sure they are well spaced.
- Let rise in a warm, draft-free location for another hour. To check whether the dough is sufficiently risen, poke it lightly with your finger. It should leave a slight indentation. You can also leave it to rise overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 180° C/350° F.
- Brush the loaves with beaten egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake for 70 minutes in the preheated oven or until the bread is a nice golden brown.
Hints & Tips